Destination: Ghent
Top Ten
1 The Ghent Altarpiece
2 Gravensteen
3 Kerkhof Campo Santo
4 Kuip van Gent
5 Patershol
6 Prinsenhof
7 St Baafskathedraal
8 St Elisabethbegijnhof
9 Stedelijk Museum voor Aktuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.)
10 Vrijdagmarkt
7 St Baafskathedraal

'Channels of light! Walkways, staircases, thrones! Halls of being!' -Rainer Maria Rilke after a visit to the cathedral.

The cathedral is more than simply the home of The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb . In 942 a parish church, the oldest in Ghent, sat on this spot. It grew continuously and eventually reached its present magnificent form in 1628. Overtime its appearance has changed regularly; a result of fire damage and the destructive mania of the iconoclasts. The Emperor Charles V was baptised here and he invested heavily in the cathedral to make it a fitting place for the celebration of his coronation. The 27 chapels in which saints are honoured also contain the mausoleums of bishops and Catholic patrons. The crypt, with its 15th-century wall paintings, is among one of the largest in Europe and traces of the original building work can still be seen.

The first of the innumerable works of art, the 15th-century Calvary triptych by an unknown master, is in the first side chapel on the right. The Gothic side aisles, flamboyant rococo pulpit, baroque painting The Conversion of St Bavo by Pieter Paul Rubens (St Sebastiaans-kapel) and the nave in late Brabant Gothic style give the visitor a thrilling overview of the styles that were able to develop under the auspices of the church. The 5-tonne bell hangs high up in the cathedral but unfortunately it is only possible to climb up the 82m-high tower during the Ghent Festival, held at the end of July. For many local people counting the steps in the tower is an annual tradition.

Address: St Baafsplein
Open: Daily 7:30-7:15. Closed Sun mornings and feast days
Restaurant: Restaurants on St Baafsplein (Moderately priced)
Bus: Bus 16, 17, 18, 19, 38; tram 21, 22, 40, 41, 42
Accessible: None
Admission: Free
Practical: Sometimes classical music performances

  Top Ten
  What To See
  Where To ...
  Practical Matters